iPad Second Thoughts (For Computer Age Denialists)

Following on from my iPad first thoughts blog post last May I’ve now learnt enough to post a worthwhile update on life with an iPad.

The short version of this blog post is I don’t use my iPad much at all BUT there’s more to it than that and I even have a useful iPad tip so it’s worth reading on…

Last time around I wrote “I’m convinced [the iPad] will carve a niche for itself” and it turns out that niche doesn’t include me BUT it does include my sister, and now my mum, Lorna (see picture left).

After playing with my iPad on launch day my sister had that conversation with her husband I talked about before she headed off to PC World and bagged a 16Gb Wifi iPad, despite reports and online stores reporting they were out of stock everywhere, so she was a very lucky early iPad adopter. Almost a year later I can report she still loves her iPad and uses it every day feeding it with new Apps keeps them both Apple happy.

Following the unexpected iPad love from my sister it occurred to me my mum “needed” an iPad for Christmas – which was a helluva gamble because she takes every opportunity to express her hatred of all things electronic, especially computers.
Undeterred I placed the order anyway and in the end everyone chipped in (thanks guys) for one last ditch effort to drag our mother into the computer age (there are several earlier aborted missions I won’t bore you with here – well I might, but not today).

Anyway, we were all sat around on Christmas day pretending to be opening our own presents while we secretly all had one eye on Lorna to watch her reaction as she unwrapped her present and, disappointingly, she did a great job at hiding her dismay – or was that excitement – I couldn’t tell, don’t ever take her on at poker.

I took the time to set the iPad up with a mobile me email address, a £5 iTunes voucher (so I could set up the Apple Store ID), PingChat so she could talk to us all, a Facebook account so she can see what her family and friends are up too and a few other apps I thought she might click on when no one was looking.

Since Christmas we have all chipped in to ease Lorna through the techofear barrier and now more than two months later I’m pleased she’s still using her iPad so mission accomplished and I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds as she becomes more proficient.

Meanwhile MY iPad has been lying around largely unused but I did look forward to upgrading it to IOS 4.2 hoping that might kick start my enthusiasm. After upgrading I had another quick play and the task switching a big step forward but it’s not intuitive. I also downloaded my first free eBook and enjoyed reading it in bed in the dark – which didn’t disturb the missus and for a day or two I was almost a proper iPad user but since then I’ve lapsed again.

It gets worse. My PC hardened brother was around to gloat when my “it just works” faith in Apple technology took a serious dent. I’d bought the updated Apple TV so we could watch podcasts and rent HD movies without putting any more dosh into Mr Murdoch’s pocket.

Well, it just didn’t work that day and it still doesn’t now! The darn thing refuses to rent movies – it connects to the Apple store fine, logs in to my account fine, takes my order, then sits there doing nothing. We tried switching Apple IDs, networks, the lot.

I tried to point out to my brother that what I have actually always said about Apple stuff is “It will either just work OR it will be serious” but it was too late. He enjoyed NOT watching the film more than I did I suspect.

Some lateral thinking clever clogs (shout out to Natasha) suggested we could rent the movie on the iPad and stream it from the iPad through the Apple TV to the actual TV and that did work but the 5Gb movie took hours to download so we had to watch it the next day, which is still a bit of a FAIL.

OK, here’s that iPad tip I promised you. I haven’t read this iPad tip anywhere else – not even on the manufacturers website – and we only discovered it by accident because we have two iPads…

An iPad with a Gelaskin is MUCH easier to hold than a naked iPad. That’s it! Sorry if you were expecting something more geeky.

It really is a major improvement. Naked iPads tend to slip through the fingers so you have to grip the iPad quite hard whereas holding a Gelaskinned iPad in one hand is effortless. It surprised us all how much difference the Gelaskin makes.

I usually put Gelaskins on my Apple gear anyway, partly to give them a little extra protection from scratches, partly so I can easily spot mine in a houseful of Apple gadgets and partly because I love the awesome Gelaskins artwork that’s available.

Gelaskins are removable too which means you can change or remove them anytime without damaging the Gelaskin (keep the original backing paper) or your Apple gadgets so I’m pleased to recommended them.

[UPDATE] Lorna is still using her iPad, she composed and almost sent her first email a few days ago but unfortunately her friend phoned her up just as her finger was poised over the send button (OK, I’ve used a bit of dramatic license here) and they chatted instead!

The intention was there though and using the keyboard takes her back to the good old days before she had kids and she was at the cutting edge of technology using a typewriter.

Uh-oh, I’ve just realised there is an outside possibility she could read this – mum, if you ever read this, you can add a comment below…

[UPDATE2] Sadly Lorna passed away in April 2013 and her iPad passed to Natasha, her granddaughter who used it at University.